By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Stakeholders in education and law enforcement say Philadelphia’s waiting list for pre-kindergarten programs is long, and it’s not helping children get a head start in life. They’re calling for more funding at the state and federal levels.
Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams says inadequate funding for early childhood education is “closing the door of opportunity” to low-income, at-risk children:
“Victor Hugo said, “He who opens a door to a school closes the door to a prison.’ ”
Williams says three- and four-year-olds who attend Head Start pre-kindergarten programs like the one at Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia, at which he read to a classroom after the briefing, are “ready to learn and are more likely to graduate on time and go onto lead productive lives.”
Bruce Clash, Pennsylvania state director of the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, says there are about 3,100 Philadelphia children currently on pre-K waiting lists.
“We must turn this around and begin to find more resources to reduce this unmet need for the sake of these at-risk kids,” he said today.
DA Williams says a prime indicator of whether a young person is going to become violent or criminally involved is his or her level of education.